GMO labeling laws move to forefront in battle over food policy

From International Business Times

Across the globe, 61 countries, including China, the European Union's 27 members and even Syria, label genetically modified foods.

But in America, consumers are left in the dark when it comes to knowing which foods and products contain genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

That may change soon, though, as nearly half of the nation’s state legislatures, according to the Center for Food Safety, have seen bills introduced to require manufacturers to label foods containing genetically modified or genetically engineered products.

The US Congress, meanwhile, is headed in the other direction, as an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill that was passed by the House Agriculture Committee last week would revoke the rights of states to pass such GMO-labeling laws, food advocates warn.

The labeling of genetically modified food is ground zero of the controversy over GMOs made by companies like Monsanto and Dupont, and the issue is likely to grow even more divisive as food safety groups butt heads with Congress and Big Ag over the right to know what is on our plates.

Vermont is one of several states, including Oregon and Connecticut, making major strides toward passing GMO-labeling legislation, as its House of Representatives passed such a bill earlier this year. Vermont’s Legislature has two-year sessions, so if the state Senate passes it next year, and Gov. Peter Shumlin signs it, it will become state law.

The lead sponsor of the bill, known as H 112, is state Rep. Kate Webb, a Democrat who argues that the public should have 
access to as much information as possible about the food they eat.

“What the bill would do is require, generally speaking, that products that contain items that have been produced through genetic engineering would need to be so labeled,” Webb said. “The groundswell has just gotten large enough that people are concerned. It’s the right to know; it’s the right to make decisions about the food that you eat.”

The science is still inconclusive on whether genetically modified and genetically engineered foods are harmful to humans, but supporters of GMO labeling point to studies showing a range of potential risks, from kidney and 
liver damage to reproductive system issues.

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